When we think of financial abuse the picture that pops into your mind is probably the same as mine; the elderly person with over aggressive family members (or carers) forcing them to hand over their savings and leaving them with nothing.
This does happen, unfortunately it features in the media all too often. But there is also another, maybe even darker type of financial abuse happening and that’s to intelligent women (~70% of financial abuse cases are women). They are left with nothing because their partners have financially abused them and left.
We all understand physical abuse, there are bruises and physical pain. In the case of financial abuse it is more subliminal and the victims themselves struggle to realise that they are being abused.
While emotional and financial abuse can be much harder to spot but it is just as, if not more damaging than physical abuse. Why? Rebuilding your life emotionally and financially can take substantially longer to repair than other forms of abuse. Let’s be clear here, any sort of abuse in not acceptable.
Next magazine has published an excellent article about financial abuse, you should definitely read it. If it raises any alarm bells for either yourself or anyone you know, don’t sweep it under the carpet. Be decisive and act, get some help and advice.
As Money Mentors, we work with couples to get the money discussions out on the table. This helps ensure that there is communication and very clear expectations around the money in the household, that the responsibilities are shared and agendas aren’t hidden.
Typically, we don’t communicate well when it comes to money. Even within relationships money can be a taboo subject. This is particularly the case in the early stages of a relationship when love is blooming and common sense and logic takes the back seat. You don’t see what could potentially end up as financial abuse as it is often very carefully concealed in supposedly loving and caring behaviours.
How do you spot it?
We suggest as a starting point, watch behaviours. Who pays when you go out? What happens if you change the pattern and offer to split the bill for example?
How do you feel when you observe your partner’s money behaviours? Listen to your gut. Does it give a lurch every time the credit card comes out, or do you feel calm?
How does your partner react to your money behaviours? Again, listen to your gut and step back and observe. Do you feel comfortable with their responses to you?
Does the question of merging your finances come up quite early in the relationship? If the thought of combining doesn’t feel comfortable to you, then there could be warning signs there.
I know it is hard to watch for this when you are in the first flush of love, we are not saying that you should leave a relationship because you feel a little uncomfortable. The discomfort you feel is the starting point for a conversation, the outcome of that conversation will determine what you do next.
Money needn’t be the downfall of your relationship. Of course there are exceptions and there are people out there who are just bullies and out for what they can get – and that also means your money.
Those people aside, if you both want your relationship to prosper and be long lasting, don’t let small money issues build into mountains. Talk to us about our coaching for couples and get your relationship on track.